Fri, 03 July 2020
Over 5L returned under Vande Bharat Mission
23:39 Over 5L returned under Vande Bharat Mission
The MEA on Friday said that over 5 lakh stranded Indians have returned safely to India from 137 countries under the Vande Bharat Mission.
"The VBM operations commenced on May 7, 2020 and in less than two months 5,03,990 stranded Indians from 137 countries, including from remote areas, have returned to their homes. Considering that the initial target to bring stranded Indians with compelling reasons was only 2 lakh, this is a significant achievement," MEA said in a release.
According to the release, Kerala received the largest number of stranded Indians (94,085), followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
The largest number of stranded Indians returned by VBM flights are from UAE (57,305), followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and USA and from Nepal (91,193) have returned through land border check posts, the ministry said.
The mission involved 860 Air India flights; 1256 charter flights and 8 Naval Ships. The stranded Indians returned by Air India were 1,64,121; Indian Navy 3,987 in 8 ships from Maldives, Iran and Colombo; chartered flights - 2,30,832 and foreign carriers - 3,969; about 60 air ambulances and 95,220 through land border check-posts from neighboring countries.
"This massive operation was carried out with the active support and cooperation of Indian Missions abroad, MoCA, MHA, MoHFW and State Governments. The MEA designated senior officers as State Coordinators were at the forefront of these operations ensuring smooth coordination at all levels," said the MEA release.
23:07 Uber shuts Mumbai office; services for riders to remain unaffected
Ride hailing platform Uber has shut down its Mumbai office as part of its restructuring efforts, but it will continue to provide services in the city, according to sources.
The company's services in the city, however, would remain unaffected.
When contacted, an Uber spokesperson said, "Uber continues to provide a high level of service to all its riders in Mumbai".
The sources said the decision to close the Mumbai office was part of the global restructuring exercise. in May, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshai had written to employees informing them of the decision to close 45 offices globally.
One of the persons said many of the employees are expected to continue working from home to support the services as is being done currently in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It could not be immediately ascertained if the closure of the Mumbai office would include reduction in jobs as well.
Uber has a large office in Gurugram, and tech centres in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It also has smaller support offices in multiple cities.
In May, Uber had said it is laying off about 600 employees (including its driver and rider support operations) in India - about a quarter of its staff in the country - as business has taken a major hit amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Globally, it had announced a reduction of customer support and recruiting teams by approximately 6,700 full-time employee roles and attributed the move to lower trip volumes and current hiring freeze.
22:50 Govt revises remdesivir dosage for COVID-19
The Union health ministry on Friday revised the dosage of anti-viral drug remdesivir to be administered to coronavirus patients in the moderate stage of illness from the earlier six days to five days as it issued an updated 'Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19'.
The drug, administered in the form of injection, should be given at a dose of 200 mg on day one followed by 100 mg daily for four days (total five days), the new treatment protocols stated.
The Health Ministry on June 13 had allowed the use of remdesivir for restricted emergency use in moderate cases under "investigational therapies".
"Under emergency use authorisation, remdesivir may be considered for patients in moderate stage requiring oxygen support," the document stated.
It is not recommended for those with severe renal impairment and high level of liver enzymes, pregnant and lactating women, and those below 12 years, it said.
The ministry also okayed off-label application of tocilizumab, a drug that modifies the immune system or its functioning, and convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19 patients in the moderate stage of illness as "investigational therapies".
It also recommended hydroxychloroquine for patients during the early course of the disease and not for critically-ill patients.
22:29 China warns India against 'strategic miscalculation'
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Ladakh to visit the troops, during which he said that the era of expansionism is over and that India's enemies have seen the "fire and fury" of its armed forces, China has put out a statement.
Here are excerpts from the statement.
I would like to stress that China hopes that India will work with us, follow faithfully the important consensus reached between the two leaders, abide by the agreements reach between the two governments, strengthen communication and coordination on properly managing the current situation through diplomatic and military channels, and jointly uphold peace and stability in the border areas.
At the same time, we need to see that China and India, both major developing countries, bear the historic mission of accelerating national development and rejuvenation. Hence, acts of mutual respect and mutual support represent the right track and also conform to the long-term interests of both countries, whereas those of mutual distrust and friction belong to an evil path and go against the fundamental aspirations of the two peoples. China and India should follow the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and uphold overall bilateral relations. India should avoid a strategic miscalculation with regard to China.
22:10 Punjab to launch COVID-19 rapid antigen testing
Punjab government has given the go-ahead to launch a pilot project for COVID-19 rapid antigen testing from the coming week.
A state government release said on Friday that on successful completion of the pilot rapid antigen project such testing would be done on the migrants coming back to the state in the wake of reopening of industries and for work in the paddy fields. A minimum of 1,000 tests will be done in the pilot project.
"The state government will procure rapid antigen testing kits to scale up its COVID-19 testing capacity. With positivity rate of just 2 per cent, Punjab is already conducting 242 tests/million/day as part of its comprehensive strategy to check further spread of the pandemic," the release said.
The release said that e-registration will be done to ensure strict monitoring of thousands of people coming from the high-risk NCR region every day.
"Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has said that no vehicle should be allowed to enter Punjab without a stringent monitoring mechanism in place. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan assured the Chief Minister that strict monitoring would be ensured of all entrants, with private players being roped in to ensure implementation of home quarantine with phone-based monitoring and regular visits," the release said.
All entrants to the state would be required to mandatorily register themselves either on the COVA app or the government web portal, and the registration certificate, with bar code, should be there on the vehicle windscreen.
21:44 1,372 new coronavirus cases in Mumbai, 73 deaths
With 1,372 new patients coming to light, the tally of coronavirus cases in Mumbai increased to 81,634 on Friday, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation release said.
With 73 deaths, death toll in the country's financial capital rose to 4,759, it added.
Notably, the number of new cases came down compared to the last two days.
On July 1 and July 2, the city had recorded 1,511 and 1,554 new COVID-19 cases.
The number of recovered COVID-19 patients increased to 52,392 as another 1,698 patients were discharged from city hospitals in the past 24 hours, said the BMC.
There are 24,483 active COVID-19 patients in Mumbai now while 1,139 new suspected patients were admitted to hospitals.
21:03 Why PM of strong India so weak: Cong on standoff
The Congress on Friday questioned the prime minister's silence on Chinese "incursions" into Indian territory and asked why he did not name China even once in his recent speeches.
The opposition party also launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked why is he "so kind" to Chinese President Xi Jinping and "not showing loyalty towards the country".
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a veiled swipe at Modi, saying while people of Ladakh claim that China has taken their land, the prime minister says otherwise.
"Ladakhis say: China took our land. PM says: Nobody took our land. Obviously, someone is lying," he wrote on a Twitter.
Gandhi also shared the voices of some Ladakhis in a video alleging that the Chinese troops have occupied Indian territory in Ladakh.
The former Congress chief's dig came on a day when Modi visited Nimu in Leh to interact with the personnel of the Army, Air Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police, days after a violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said that the prime minister did not name China in his "MannKiBaat", his address to the nation and even in his address to soldiers in Leh on Friday.
"June 28 - He did not name China in his 'MannKiBaat'. June 30 - He did not name China in his address to the nation and on July 3 in his address to soldiers, he did not name China too.
"Why is the Prime Minister of a strong India so weak? Why is he hesitating to name China? When will he talk to China looking into their eyes?" Surjewala asked in a tweet in Hindi.
20:41 Pak foreign minister tests Covid-19 positive
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today said he has tested positive for coronavirus.
"This afternoon I felt a slight fever and immediately quarantined myself at home. I have now tested positive for Covid-19," he said in a tweet.
"I feel strong and energetic. I will continue to carry on my duties from home. Please keep me in your prayers."
20:23 Kamal Nath is bigger problem in MP than COVID-19: CM
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday attacked senior Congress leader Kamal Nath saying the latter is "bigger problem than COVID-19 in the state."
Addressing citizens of the state (virtually) on the occasion of completion of 100 days of his government in the state, Chouhan said, "Was Kamal Nath capable of fighting COVID-19? He is a bigger problem in Madhya Pradesh than COVID-19. We fought the crisis well."
"We have deposited Rs 40,000 crore in the accounts of poor people of Madhya Pradesh under different schemes. Will Kamal Nath put this money? Kamal Nath had stopped every public welfare scheme in the state. We made arrangements to buy farmers' produce even in this crisis," he added.
Chouhan further alleged that former Chief Minister Kamal Nath had lied to the farmers about indebtedness. "Kamla Nath did not pay the insurance premium only. I filed the premium as soon as I formed the government and deposited Rs 2,990 crore of insurance in the farmers' accounts," he said.
19:56 NEET postponed to Sept 13 in view of COVID-19
The HRD ministry on Friday postponed medical and engineering entrance exams NEET and JEE to September in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases.
"Keeping in mind the safety of students and to ensure quality education we have decided to postpone JEE and NEET examinations. JEE-Main examination will be held between September 1-6, while JEE-advanced exam will be held on September 27. NEET examination will be held on September 13," said Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nihank'.
The medical entrance exam National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test was scheduled for July 26, while the Joint Entrance Exam -Mains for admission to engineering colleges was to be held from July 18-23.
JEE-Advanced, which is conducted for admission to Indian Institutes of Technology, was scheduled for August 23.
19:49 Delhi BJP launches COVID helpline
The Delhi BJP on Friday launched a helpline for information related to coronavirus.
Launching the helpline, party's Delhi chief Adesh Gupta said people can consult doctors on the helpline between 10 am to 7 pm without any charges.
A team of five doctors will be available at the Delhi BJP office to provide medical help to callers.
Delhi BJP doctor's cell incharge Dr Virendra Rohilla, co-convenor Dr Anil Goel and other members were present at the launch of the helpline.
Gupta said people can consult the doctors about COVID-19 test, admission in hospital, food to be taken in home quarantine, need for plasma transfusion and other queries related to the disease.
The helpline numbers are- 303221617, 7303414917, 9958837228 and 9717247796.
19:26 4.5-strong earthquake in Delhi
An earthquake of magnitude 4.5 was reported near Delhi on Friday evening, according to India's National Center for Seismology.
The epicentre of the earthquake was 63 km southwest of Gurgaon in Haryana, the agency said.
The earthquake struck at 7:00:48 pm at a depth of 5 km from the surface.
Strong tremors were felt in Delhi and surrounding areas for several seconds.
19:04 India's COVID-19 recovery rate rises to 60.73%
Early detection and a timely clinical management of COVID-19 cases have resulted in increasing daily recoveries, with the recovery rate of coronavirus patients crossing 60 per cent in the country on Friday, the Union health ministry said.
The recovery rate of COVID-19 patients stands at 60.73 per cent, the ministry said as the number of India's coronavirus cases soared by over 20,000 in a day for the first time, taking the country's tally to 6,25,544, while the death toll due to the disease climbed to 18,213 with 379 new fatalities.
"Early detection and timely clinical management of COVID-19 cases have resulted in increasing daily recoveries. During the last 24 hours, a sharp rise of recoveries was observed with 20,033 COVID-19 patients having been cured, taking the cumulative figure to 3,79,891," the ministry said in a statement.
Presently, there are 2,27,439 active coronavirus cases in the country and all are under medical supervision, it added.
A high-level review meeting on COVID-19 preparedness was held by the cabinet secretary with the states and Union territories on Friday, the ministry said.
"Coordinated efforts at all levels of government for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 are showing good results with a consistently increasing gap between recoveries and active cases," the ministry said.
As on date, there are 1,52,452 recovered COVID-19 cases in the country, which is more than the number of active cases, it added.
In accordance with the "test, trace, treat" strategy and with various measures taken recently to remove all impediments to COVID-19 testing and facilitate widespread testing by the states and Union territories, there has been a steady rise in the number of samples tested for the disease every day, with close to 93 lakh tested till date, the ministry said.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, a total of 92,97,749 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to July 2, with 2,41,576 of those tested on Thursday.
This has also been possible due to the ever-expanding network of testing laboratories in the country, the ministry underlined.
The country currently has 1,074 laboratories for COVID-19 testing -- 775 government-run and 299 private -- it said. -- PTI
18:52 Italian marines case: Govt tells SC it accepts tribunal's verdict
The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking closure of judicial proceedings against two Italian marines' accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, saying it has accepted the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague which held that India is entitled to get compensation in the case but can't prosecute the marines due to official immunity enjoyed by them.
In February 2012, India had accused two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, on board the MV Enrica Lexie -- an Italian flagged oil tanker-- of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing.
In its application filed in the pending case, the Centre told the top court, "The applicant states and submits that the Republic of India has taken a decision to accept and abide by the Award passed by the said Tribunal which would have the bearing on the continuance of present proceedings before this Court". -- PTI
18:30 Someone is lying: Rahul attacks PM over LAC row
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim that "nobody took our land" is contrary to what Ladakhi people say.
"Ladakhis say: China took our land. PM says: Nobody took our land. Obviously, someone is lying," Gandhi tweeted along with a video in which some people alleged that China has entered into Indian territory.
The situation at the border along Lines of Actual Control remains tense after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash with Chinese troops when they attempted to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation.
Indian intercepts revealed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured.
In the meeting with Opposition on June 19, the PM had said: "Neither is anyone inside our territory nor is any of our post captured." -- ANI
18:21 Japan backs India on Ladakh standoff with China
In a strong support to India over its border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, Japan on Friday said it opposed "any unilateral" attempts to change the status quo in the region.
After a meeting with foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Japanese ambassador Satoshi Suzuki said Japan hoped for peaceful resolution of the row through dialogues.
"Had a good talk with FS Shringla. Appreciated his briefing on the situation along LAC, including GOI's policy to pursue peaceful resolution. Japan also hopes for peaceful resolution through dialogues. Japan opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo," he said on Twitter.
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks.
The tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
India has been insisting on restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh to restore peace and tranquillity in the region.
In the meeting, Shringla is learnt to have briefed the Japanese envoy about the overall situation in eastern Ladakh and India's position on the issue.
India and China have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region. However, there was no visible sign of end to the standoff though the two sides agreed to initiate disengagement of the forces from the region.
India on Thursday said it expected China to ensure expeditious restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas in sync with provisions of relevant bilateral pacts.
Following the Galwan Valley clashes, the Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border besides moving in heavy weapons.
The IAF has also moved air defence systems as well as a sizeable number of its frontline combat jets and attack helicopters to several key air bases. -- PTI
17:47 130-cr Indians proud of you: PM to injured troops
Update: "Our country has never bowed down and will never bow down to any world power, and I am able to say this because of braves like you," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while interacting with the soldiers, who were injured in the June 15 clash with the Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley.
"We will never bow down to any power of the world, said the Prime Minister in a veiled reference to China. His remarks came during his interaction with the injured soldiers at a hospital in Leh.
"I have come here to thank each one of you. Our India becomes self-reliant. Our country has never bowed down and will never bow down to any world power. I pay my respects to you as well as the mothers who gave birth to braves like you. Hope everyone gets well soon," he said.
Lauding the soldiers he said, "The braves who left us, they did not depart without reason, all of you gave a befitting reply. Your bravery, the blood you shed will inspire our youth and countrymen for generations."
"You all gave a befitting reply. You are in a hospital that's why you may not know that 130 crore citizens are proud of you. A message has gone to the world about the valour shown by you braves. The way you stood up to the powers, the world wishes to know who are these braves? What is their training? What is their sacrifice? The world is analysing your bravery. The blood you have shed is an inspiration to our country," he said.
Earlier addressing the soldiers in Nimu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an apparent dig at China said the age of expansionism is over and added that the new age of development is here.
"From Leh, Ladakh to Siachen and Kargil...and Galwan's icy waters...every mountain, every peak is witness to the valour of Indian soldiers. Age of expansionism is over, this is the age of development. History is witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back," said PM Modi.
The Prime Minister also said that the people of Ladakh have rejected every attempt to create separatism in the region."Ladakh is the head of the country. This is the symbol of pride for the 130 crore citizens of India. This land belongs to the people who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the country... Every attempt to create separatism in the region was rejected by the nationalist people of Ladakh," Modi said.
17:31 I salute the mothers who gave birth to braves like you: PM
Another image of the prime minister meeting soldiers injured in the Galwan Valley clash on June 15. The PM met troops in Nimoo, Leh, this morning in a surprise visit along with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief MM Naravane.
17:24 PM meets soldiers injured in Galwan Valley clash
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met soldiers who were injured in the Galwan Valley Clash of June 15 and spoke to them. "Our country has never bowed down and will never bow down to any world power. I pay my respects to you as well as the mothers who gave birth to braves like you. Hope everyone gets well soon," he said at the hospital.
"A message has gone to the world about the valour shown by you braves. The way you stood up to the powers, the world wishes to know who are these braves? What is their training? What is their sacrifice? World is analysing your bravery.
"The braves who left us, they didn't depart without reason, all of you gave a befitting reply. Your bravery, the blood you shed will inspire our youth and countrymen for generations."
17:01 29 pilgrims killed in bus-train collision in Pakistan
At least 29 people, mostly Pakistani Sikh pilgrims, were killed when a mini-bus carrying them rammed into a train at an unmanned crossing in Pakistan's Punjab province on Friday. The mini-bus carrying Sikh pilgrims, who were returning from Nankana Sahib in Punjab, hit the Shah Hussain Express which was coming from Karachi to Lahore at Farooqababd, some 60 kms from Lahore, at 1.30 pm, officials said.
Evacuee Trust Property Board spokesperson Amir Hashmi told PTI that at least 29 people, most of them Pakistani Sikhs, were killed in the collision. "The coaster was carrying mostly Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Sacha Sauda in Farooqabad. They had come to Nankana Sahib from Peshawar. After staying in Nanakana Sahib, they were leaving for Peshawar. The ETPB security had escorted them till the limits of Nankana Sahib," Hashmi said. The rescue teams reached the spot and shifted the injured to the district headquarters hospital, a statement by the Railways Ministry said. -- PTI
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee with PM Modi in a file pic
16:47 BJP MP Locket Chatterjee tests Covid +ve
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee on Friday said she has tested positive for COVID-19. In a tweet, the general secretary of the BJP's West Bengal unit said she has a mild fever. "I have tested positive for Covid19 this morning, having mild fever and was in self-isolation for the past one week. I will keep everyone posted. All is well," she said.
Chatterjee, who left her acting career to join politics, is the Lok Sabha MP from Hooghly in West Bengal. The number of active COVID-19 cases in the state crossed the 6,000-mark on Thursday to reach 6,083. So far, 699 people have died of the disease and 13,037 have recovered from it in the state. PTI
16:40 Nagaland bans sale of dog meat
Nagaland's Chief Secretary Temjen Toy on Friday declared that the State government has decided to ban the commercial import and trading of dogs and dog markets and also the sale of the meat, both cooked and uncooked.
"The State Government has decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs and dog markets and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked. Appreciate the wise decision taken by the State's Cabinet", Toy wrote in a tweet, tagging BJP MP Maneka Gandhi and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
The decision comes in the wake of the image of dogs being sold at Dimapur markets surfaced online on social media, causing an outcry.
Recently, Pritish Nandy, a prominent poet, and former Rajya Sabha MP, took to Twitter, appealing to his followers to join a movement to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat in Nagaland markets.
"This is urgent. You can help make history by sending an email tonight to firstname.lastname@example.org saying Nagaland must stop dog markets, dog restaurants, and smuggling of dogs into the state. Eating dog meat is inhuman, not just illegal. The issue comes before the cabinet tomorrow", he wrote.
16:30 PM to review work done during Covid tomorrow
The BJP state units will give a detailed presentation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 4 about the work done by them during the coronavirus induced lockdown, said party's national general secretary Arun Jain on Friday.
Other senior party leaders will also join the presentation, he added.
"Tomorrow at 4 pm a detailed presentation will be given by state party units on work done by them during the lockdown. It will be telecast on NaMo app and other digital platforms. All our senior leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join as well," Singh told ANI.
"The core committee from every state would be presenting in front of the Prime Minister summary of their work and the PM will give feedback. It is because of his vision that the party workers from across the country were inspired to take up initiatives." -- ANI
15:46 Global tourism loss due to Covid is $1.2 trillion
The world's tourism sector could lose at least 1.2 trillion dollars or 1.5 per cent of the global gross domestic product having been placed at a standstill for nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by UNCTAD.
The UN's trade and development body warned that the loss could rise to 2.2 trillion dollars or 2.8 per cent of the world's GDP if the break in international tourism lasts for eight months, in line with the expected decline in tourism as projected by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
UNCTAD estimates losses in the most pessimistic scenario, a 12-month break in international tourism, at 3.3 trillion dollars or 4.2 per cent of global GDP.Tourism is a backbone of many countries' economies and a lifeline for millions of people around the world, having more than tripled in value from 490 billion dollars to 1.6 trillion dollars in the last 20 years, according to UNWTO. But Covid-19 has brought it to a halt, causing severe economic consequences globally.
Prevailing lockdown measures in some countries, travel restrictions, reductions in consumers' disposable income and low confidence levels could significantly slow down the sector's recovery. Even as tourism slowly restarts in an increasing number of countries, it remains at a standstill in many nations. -- ANI
15:39 Heavy rains cause waterlogging in several parts of Mumbai
Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has come to a standstill with heavy waterlogging being reported in several areas.
On Friday, BMC received water logging complaints from eight areas - Bhulabai Desai Road, Bindu Madhav Junction, Worli naka, Hindmata Junction, Dhobi Ghat Cuff parade, Chirabazar, C P Office, and Byculla Police Station. Waterlogging in these places forced the closure of subways and vehicle movement slowed down as well.
The city witnessed rain showers overnight. However, it turned into heavy rainfall in the morning.
The region recorded over 54 mm of rainfall in the last 12 hours.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has classified light rain between 2.5 and 7.5 mm; moderate rain (7.6-35.5 mm); heavy rain (35.6-64.4 mm); and extremely heavy rain (64.5 - 124.4 mm). -- ANI
Image: The waterlogged Hindamata area of Dadar in Mumbai today. Pic: Sahil Salvi
15:36 Lanka drops Cricket World Cup match-fixing probe
The probe into match-fixing allegations raised against the Sri Lankan cricket team from the 2011 World Cup has been completed and the players have been cleared of any wrong doing, the Chief of the SIU SSP Jagath Fonseka confirmed according to a report in newswire.lk.
Sri Lankan cricket legends including Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Upul Tharanga were summoned and questioned in this regard. A decision to end the probe was taken on Friday after a discussion with high ranking officials of the Special Investigation Unit, the report added. -- Agencies
15:33 Delhi riots: 9 killed were forced to shout 'Jai Shri Ram', police tells court
Some of the rioters used a WhatsApp group to coordinate with each other during north-east Delhi riots in February and killed nine Muslims after they refused to chant 'Jai Shri Ram', Delhi police has alleged in its charge sheets filed in a court here.
The accused were part of a WhatsApp group -- Kattar Hindut Ekta -- that was created on February 25 to take revenge on Muslims, the charge sheets said, adding that they used it to coordinate with each other and provide, men, arms and ammunition to each other. The creator of the WhatsApp group is still absconding, police said in the charge sheets.
'Kattar Hindu Ekta' group was created on February 25 at 12.49 Hrs. Initially there were 125 members in this group, out of these 125; total 47 had exited the group by March 8, it said.
The charge sheets were filed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Kumar Gautam on June 29 for the alleged bludgeoning of nine people -- Hamza, Aamin, Bhure Ali, Mursalin, Aas Mohd, Musharraf, Akil Ahmed, and Hashim Ali and his elder brother Aamir Khan -- to death.
During the investigation, it has been established that a group of Hindus comprising accused persons - Jatin Sharma, Rishabh Chaudhary, Vivek Panchal, Lokesh Solanki, Pankaj Sharma, Prince, Sumit Chaudhary, Ankit Chaudhary and Himanshu Thakur, along with other identified and unidentified rioters - became active in Ganga Vihar/ Bhagirathi Vihar area since the morning of February 25 to 26 midnight and bludgeoned nine Muslim persons to death and injured several persons in Bhagirathi Vihar and other area, police said in the charge sheet.
The final report further said, It shows that they were actively involved in rioting and attacking other community people belonging to different religion i.e. Muslim and during riots they killed many people by attacking them.
Their modus operandi was, they used to catch the people and ascertain their religion by asking name, address and by their document i.e. Identity Card and they were forcing them to call 'Jai Shri Ram' many times. The person who did not say 'Jai Shriram' and carried a Muslim ID card were bluntly attacked and thrown into the Main Ganda Nala (dirty drain), Bhagirathi Vihar, Delhi, it said. The court has put up the matter for consideration on July 13.
15:27 Singapore authorities urge caution as COVID-19 cases rise
Singapore authorities on Friday said they are taking a cautious approach in the country's phase 2 of reopening in view of rising infections in community areas. On Friday, the country reported 169 new coronavirus cases. Of the new cases, 158 are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, which have accounted for most of the COVID-19 cases in the country, the Ministry of Health said.
The remaining 11 cases were reported from the community areas -- three are Singaporeans (citizens) or Permanent Residents (foreigners) and eight are foreigners on work passes living outside the dormitories. Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased to an average of nine per day in the past week, from an average of four cases per day in the week before that, The Straits Times reported.
Restrictions, such as limiting gatherings to groups of five people or fewer, are likely to remain despite a number of activities resuming under phase 2 of reopening, it said. With the addition of the new 169 cases, Singapore now has 44,479 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths.
Singapore's "circuit-breaker" period began on April 7 as part of which all non-essential work places were closed and residents were barred from leaving their houses except to buy food and groceries or to exercise alone in the neighbourhood. The period ended on June 2. -- PTI
An unscheduled Vande Bharat flight
15:19 No scheduled international flights till July 31
The aviation regulator DGCA said on Friday it was extending the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country till July 31 but added that some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case to case basis.
Scheduled international passenger flights were suspended in India on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Modifying its June 26 circular that stated that scheduled international passenger flights will remain suspended till July 15, 2020, the regulator stated on Friday it has decided to extend the deadline to July 31, 2020.
However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis," said the circular by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Air India and other private domestic airlines have been operating unscheduled international repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, which was started on May 6 by the Central government. India resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25, after a gap of two months. PTI
15:03 US donates 100 ventilators to Pakistan
The United States has donated 100 ventilators worth USD 3 million to Pakistan to support its fight against COVID-19. The US embassy in a statement on Friday said the Trump administration through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) donated a shipment of 100 brand-new, state-of-the-art ventilators to Pakistan.
The ventilators arrived in Karachi on July 2 and will be sent to hospitals across Pakistan. This donation delivers on President Donald Trump's generous offer of these critically needed supplies and supports Pakistan's urgent response to the pandemic, the embassy said. Made in America, the ventilators are valued at about USD 3 million and reflect the latest in cutting-edge medical design and technology, it said. They are compact, easily deployable, and will enable Pakistan to more effectively treat patients suffering from COVID-19. -- PTI
15:01 ICMR's rush to produce 'Indian Vaccine' for COVID-19 suggests politics is driving science
The timeline mentioned in Dr Balram Bhargava's letter is not just unrealistic, it suggests whatever approval flows will not have satisfied the usual requirements of efficacy and safety that the world expects from a vaccine.
Read the report here
14:45 From Leh to Siachen valour of Indian soldiers everywhere: PM
PM@Ladakh: "From Leh, Ladakh to Siachen and Kargil... and Galwan's icy waters... every mountain, every peak is witness to the valour of Indian soldiers."
The soldiers were seen maintaining social distancing while the Prime Minister addressed them.
The Prime Minister on Friday made a surprise visit to Ladakh and was briefed by senior officers at Nimmoo amid ongoing tension with China. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
14:34 PM's visit to Ladakh to boost morale of 'valorous soldiers': Amit Shah
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday lauded the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ladakh and said the tour will boost the morale of "our valorous soldiers".
Modi's visit to Ladakh came amidst the ongoing stand-off between the Indian Army and China's PLA (People's Liberation Army) in the forward areas of the high altitude region. Tensions had escalated between the two countries after 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in a fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh last month.
"Leading from the front. Prime Minister Shri @NarendraModi Ji with our brave and courageous personnel of Army, Air Force & ITBP at a forward location in Ladakh. "This visit of honourable PM will surely boost the morale of our valorous soldiers," he tweeted along with multiple pictures of Modi with the soldiers. Shah also used the hashtag '#ModiInLeh' in his Twitter post. -- PTI
14:29 PM to troops: Expenditure on border infra trebled
PM@Ladakh: "Age of expansionism is over, this is the age of development. History is witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back.
"I am looking at women soldiers in front of me. In the battlefield at the border this view is inspiring... Today I speak of your glory.
"We have increased expenditure on development of infrastructure in the border area by three times."
14:20 Modi invokes Lord Krishna of war and peace
PM@Ladakh: "Whether World Wars or peace, whenever the need arises, the world has seen the victory of our braves and their efforts towards peace. We have worked for the betterment of humanity.
"We are the same people who pray to the flute playing Lord Krishna but we are also the same people who idolise and follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the 'Sudarshana Chakra'."
Troops at Nimoo, Ladakh listen to the PM's speech
14:15 Bravery is a pre-requisite for peace: PM
PM@Nimoo, Ladakh: "The bravery of 14 Corps will be talked about everywhere. Tales of your bravery and valour are echoing in every house in the country. Bharat Mata's enemies have seen your fire and fury. Those who are weak can never initiate peace, bravery is a pre-requisite for peace."
14:11 PM to troops: Your courage higher than mountains
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses soldiers in Nimoo, Ladakh. "The bravery that you and your compatriots showed, a message has gone to the world about India's strength," he said.
"Your courage is higher than the heights where you are posted today. I once again pay my tributes to the brave soldiers martyred in Galwan Valley. Atmanirbhar Bharat ka sankalp aapke ke tyaag, balidaan, pursharth ke karan aur bhi mazboot hota hai."
13:58 Digvijaya hits back at Scindia: 'One tiger lives in a forest'
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Friday hit back at former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia over his 'Tiger abhi zinda hai' remark and said 'only one tiger lives in a forest'.
The Congress Rajya Sabha MP also recalled how he used to hunt tigers, when it was not banned, with Jyotiraditya Scindia's father Madhavrao Scindia.
Singh's attack on Scindia came a day after the expansion of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's cabinet which saw a lion's share of berths going to the supporters of the former Guna MP who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in March.
'You know the character of a tiger, in a forest only one tiger lives,' Singh tweeted in Hindi after Scindia's 'tiger' comments directed at him and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Thursday.
Talking to reporters after the expansion of the Chouhan cabinet, Scindia, asked about Congress leaders tarnishing his image and that of his loyalists, said, I will certainly respond to the Congress party, but I would like to remind both Nath and Singh that Tiger abhi zinda hai (Tiger is still alive).
Scindia repeated the 'tiger' remark at a party function on Thursday evening.
After the BJP lost power in MP in 2018, it was Chouhan who had made the Tiger abhi zinda hai remark to assert he still remains a powerful figure in state politics and will stage a comeback soon.
The cabinet expansion saw induction of 28 ministers, nearly a dozen of them Scindia supporters, who quit the Congress in March.
The Nath-led Congress government collapsed more than three months ago when 22 of its MLAs, most of them Scindia supporters, resigned from the assembly.
The war of words between Scindia and Singh comes ahead of the bypolls on 24 Assembly seats.
Singh also responded to Scindia's remark in another tweet, 'Samay bada balwan. BJP ka bhavishya!! Na jane is mantimandal gathan ne kitne bhjapa ke tiger zinda kar diye. Dekhte jaiye. (Time is very powerful. You never know how many BJP tigers got alive with this expansion of cabinet. Just watch).'
Taking further dig on Scindia's remark, Singh, in another tweet, said When hunting was not banned, at that time I and Shrimant Madhavrao Scindia used to go for tiger hunting.
After Indira Gandhi introduced the Wildlife Conservation Act, I now capture tigers only in my camera. According to Congress sources, the former chief minister is fond of wildlife photography. -- PTI
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian
13:39 China reacts to PM Modi's visit to Ladakh
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on PM Modi's Ladakh visit: "India and China are in communication and negotiations on lowering the temperatures through military and diplomatic channels. No party should engage in any action that may escalate the situation at this point."
Days after a violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in East Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reached Leh with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
Modi reached Leh around 9.30 am, sources said.
The prime minister was at one of the forward locations in Nimu and interacted with personnel of the Army, Air Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police, official sources said.
13:12 Rajnath thanks PM for 'boosting morale' of troops
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a surprise visit to Ladakh amid border tensions with China and meeting the soldiers, saying that it has boosted the morale of the Indian Army.
Earlier today, Modi made a surprise visit to Ladakh and was briefed by senior officers in Nimmoo. Talking to Twitter, Singh said that the borders of the country have always been secure under the Indian Army.
"The borders of the country have always been secure under the Indian Army. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Ladakh to meet and encourage the soldiers has certainly boosted the morale of the Army. I commend the Prime Minister's move and thank him for it," Singh tweeted in Hindi.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
He reached Nimmoo early morning today and is presently interacting with Army, Air Force and ITBP personnel. Located at 11,000 feet, this is among the tough terrains, surrounded by the Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus.
13:10 Japan opposes unilateral attempts to change status quo at LAC
Satoshi Suzuki, Japanese Ambassador, says he had a "good talk with Foreign Secretary HV Shringla. Appreciated his briefing on situation along LAC, including GOI's policy to pursue peaceful resolution. Japan hopes for peaceful resolution and opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo."
13:01 Tejashwi Yadav apologises for 'mistakes' during RJD's 15-year tenure
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday said that RJD stayed in power for 15 years but nobody can deny that party supremo Lalu Yadav did not do social justice, he also apologised for committing any mistakes during the tenure.
"Well, we stayed in power for 15 years. But we were not a government then, we were small. But no one can deny that Lalu Ji did not do social justice. If we have made a mistake in those 15 years, we apologise for that too," said Yadav.
"Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also stayed in power for 15 years. He had asserted to give employment, improve farmers' condition and stated that development will take place in Bihar. Under the rule of Laluji's party, workers, poor people were respected but today even the Ministers are not being respected," he added.
Interestingly, the comments came even as Bihar Assembly polls are likely to be held in November. The state Legislative Assembly has 243 seats where the BJP is in power along with its NDA ally Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party. -- ANI
12:48 Police to question Sanjay Bhansali in Sushant's suicide case
Popular filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali will be questioned by Mumbai police on Monday in relation to actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death by suicide.
The police have so far recorded the statements of at least 29 people in connection with the case related to the death of the 34-year-old actor last month, which left millions of his fans shocked. It is likely that Bhansali will be asked about his plans to cast the late actor in his 2013 release 'Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela', which didn't materialise due to Rajput's contract with Yash Raj Films.
Earlier last week, Bollywood casting director Shanoo Sharma, and the deceased actor's costar from the film 'Dil Bechara', Sanjana Sanghi were also questioned by Mumbai Police. -- ANI
12:45 3,271 to 9,644 -- why Thane saw Covid cases nearly triple in June
Slums are believed to constitute 45 per cent of Thane's Covid-19 burden. While the cases in high-rises have been linked to eased travel to and from Mumbai as part of the Maharashtra government's 'Mission Begin Again', which entailed phased easing of the lockdown beginning 3 June, the slums appear to be paying the price of neglect.
12:35 US economy adds 4.8 mn jobs despite Covid
The US economy has added a record 4.8 million jobs in June showing a sign of nascent recovery in the country reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post reported that a surge in new infections and a spate of new closing might affect the jobs recovery. According to two key federal measurements, more than 20 million workers have lost their jobs in the last three and a half months into the pandemic.
The unemployment rate in June was 11.1 per cent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, down from a peak of 14.7 per cent in April but still far above the 3.5 per cent level higher than in February.
Over 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance for the first time last week. While more than 19 million people are still receiving unemployment benefits, stubbornly high levels show that how many people are struggling to find or keep work.
The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday said the coronavirus pandemic gave such a shock to the labor market that it would not fully recover for more than 10 years.
President Trump touted the jobs that were added at a news conference called shortly after they were released, saying they were a sign that "America's economy is now roaring back to life as nobody has ever seen before."
"All of this incredible news is the result of historic actions my administration has taken," Trump said.
But his top aides acknowledged there was still a long way to go.
"There is still a lot of hardship and a lot of heartbreak in these numbers," US National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said. "I think we have a lot more work to do." -- ANI
12:28 Kejriwal meets family of doc who died due to Covid
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal meets the family of LNJP Hospital's Dr Aseem Gupta, who passed away due to COVID-19. CM hands over a compensation amount of Rs 1 crore to his family.
12:22 India stops import of power equipment from China
Power Minister R K Singh on Friday said that India will not import power equipment from China, amid border standoff with China. During a virtual press conference with state counterparts, he also asserted that the equipment import from China and Pakistan would not be permitted especially on the basis of inspection. He further said state discoms should not give orders for supply of equipment to Chinese firms.
"We manufacture everything here. India imported Rs 71,000 crore worth power equipment including Rs 21,000 crore from China," Singh said in the state energy ministers conference chaired by him this morning in his opening remarks.
He said: "This (huge import of power equipment) is something we cannot tolerate that a country will transgress into our territory....we will not take anything from China and Pakistan."
He further said, "we will not give permission for import from Prior Reference countries. We are affected. There could be malware or trojen horse in those (imports from China) which they can activate remotely (to cripple our power systems)." -- PTI
12:13 Shiv Sena lauds PM's visit to Leh
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi on Friday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Leh, Ladakh is important and it sends a good message of solidarity to the troops.
"PM Modi's visit to Leh is important and sends a good message of solidarity with the troops especially after his comments on June 19th. If he was criticised for that, he must be acknowledged for this," Chaturvedi tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a surprise visit to Ladakh and was briefed by senior officers in Nimmoo amid ongoing tension with China. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.He reached Nimmoo, early morning today and interacted with Army, Air Force and ITBP personnel.
Located at 11,000 feet, this is among the tough terrains, surrounded by Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus. -- ANI
12:00 No change in J&K situation despite note ban, Art 370: Sena
The Shiv Sena on Friday said the 2016 demonetisation exercise, scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir have done nothing to improve the security situation in the terror-affected Union Territory. The former BJP ally wondered why there is no peace in the newly-carved out Union Territory when there is a "strong" government at the Centre.
"Its status quo despite scrapping of Article 370 (that gave special status to J&K) and bifurcation of the erstwhile state.
"There is blood on the streets every day and there is loss of innocent lives. Despite demonetisation, there is no respite from terror activities and circulation of fake notes," said an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
Referring to a recent encounter in Sopore in which a CRPF jawan was martyred and a senior citizen lost his life in firing by terrorists, it said the picture of the civilian's three-year-old grandson sitting on the body of his grandfather was heart-wrenching.
"The little boy did not run away but was trying to wake up his grandfather. Some central ministers tweeted the picture on their Twitter handle. "These ministers should understand that this picture can prove to be the central government's failure. Onusof this situationin the valley lies on the government.
"A child who doesn't know his grandfather is dead is trying to wake him up. Such pictures have come to the fore only in countries like Syria, Egypt, Somalia and Afghanistan," the Marathi daily said.
The picture has hurt the image of the country and also of the government at the Centre, it said. Jawans saved the child, but what is his future," the editorial asked and wondered if the government had any answer.
The Sena publication said despite the Centre scrapping Article 370 in J&K in August last year, soldiers continue to be martyred in terror violence and there is no "gharwapsi" (home coming) for displaced Kashmiri pandits.
"Last month, a Kashmiri pandit sarpanch was killed by terrorists," it said. The editorial expressed concern over the rising tension on the borders with Pakistan and China.
"In the last six months, terror activities in Kashmir are on the rise. Even though our jawans have eliminated several terrorists, the number of martyred soldiers is also not less," the Sena said. The editorial demanded that the government act against secessionists in Kashmir and Chinese in Ladakh. -- PTI
11:48 Kanpur shootout proof of gundaraj in UP: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that Kanpur encounter that resulted in the killing of eight police personnel is another proof of 'gundaraj' in the state and added that how will public remain safe when the police themselves are not safe.
"This is another proof of gundaraj in UP. When the police are not safe, how will the public be? My heartfelt condolences are with the families of the slain martyrs and I wish the injured a speedy recovery," he tweeted (translated from Hindi).
He also posted a report from a news website on the Kanpur encounter. Earlier, Congress General Secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also paid condolences to the families of the police personnel and stated that the law and order situation in the State has deteriorated and demanded strict action from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The eight policemen who lost their lives in the encounter are - CO Devendra Kumar Mishra, SO Mahesh Yadav, Chowki Incharge Anup Kumar, Sub-Inspector Nebulal, Constables Sultan Singh, Rahul, Jitendra and Bablu. -- ANI
11:23 New, more infectious strain of coronavirus seen
Scientists have shown that a variation in the genome of the novel coronavirus has improved its ability to infect human cells, and has helped it become the dominant strain circulating around the world. According to the research, published in the journal Cell, a variant of the novel coronavirus, named 'D614G', is more infectious in cell cultures under laboratory conditions.
"The D614G variant first came to our attention in early April, as we had observed a strikingly repetitive pattern," said study lead author Bette Korber from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. "All over the world, even when local epidemics had many cases of the original form circulating, soon after the D614G variant was introduced into a region it became the prevalent form," Korber said.
The researchers, including those from the University of Sheffield in the UK, said D614G has a small but effective change in the 'spike' protein that protrudes from the surface of the virus, which it uses to enter and infect human cells.
They said this variant has quickly taken over as the dominant strain soon after it first appeared, with geographic samples showing a significant shift in viral population from the original, to the new strain of the virus. -- PTI
11:06 Cloth used by Sushant to hang himself to be tested
Investigators will subject the cloth allegedly used by actor Sushant Singh Rajput to hang himself to "tensile strength" analysis to determine whether it can bear the weight similar to that of the filmstar, as part of probe into his death, an official said on Friday.
Rajput (34) was found hanging at his suburban Bandra residence on June 14. According to the investigators, the actor ended his life by hanging himself from the ceiling using a green coloured night gown made of cotton. No suicide note was found from the spot, the police had said then. Besides viscera from the actors body, the police also sent the gown for chemical and forensic analysis at the Forensic Science Laboratory in suburban Kalina, he said. It will take at least three more days to get final forensic report, the official said.
To ascertain the exact cause of death, forensic experts will check pattern of ligature marks around the actors neck and also determine the strength of the gown with the help of "tensile strength" analysis, he said.
The tensile strength test will technically establish whether the cloth can bear around 80kg, the weight of the actor, he said. The test will help determine if there was any foul play, the official said. Tensile strength is maximum load that a material can support without fracture when being stretched. Viscera analysis will help in checking whether there were any traces of chemical, poisonous or narcotics substance in his body, the official said.
"Usually, it takes eight to ten working days to get s report from the FSL in regular cases. But since this case is sensitive, experts are taking more precautions to avoid any kind of error in their analysis," the official said. The forensic report of the actors mobile phone is also awaited, he said. Recently, the police received the final post-mortem report of the actor from Cooper Hospital, which mentioned the cause of the death as asphyxia due to hanging". PTI
10:59 Zydus to begin human clinical trials for Covid vaccine
As we wait for further news from the PM's visit to Leh, here's something to keep your spirits up.
Healthcare major Zydus Cadila said on Friday its plasmid DNA vaccine candidate for COVID-19 (ZyCoV-D) developed indigenously at its vaccine technology centre has successfully completed the pre-clinical phase.
The company has received permission from the Drug Controller General of India -- the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) -- to initiate phase one and two human clinical trials in India.
In animal studies, the vaccine was found to elicit a strong immune response in multiple animal species like mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits. The antibodies produced by the vaccine were able to completely neutralise the wild type virus in virus neutralisation assay indicating the protective potential of the vaccine candidate.
No safety concerns were observed for the vaccine candidate in repeat-dose toxicology studies by both intramuscular and intradermal routes of administration, said Zydus. In rabbits, up to three times the intended human dose was found to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic.Zydus has already manufactured clinical GMP batches of the vaccine candidate and plans to initiate theclinical trials in July across multiple sites in India in over 1,000 subjects. With ZyCoV-D, the company has successfully established the DNA vaccine platform in the country using non-replicating and a non-integrating plasmid carrying the gene of interest making it very safe.
Troops at the forward position Nimu, Ladakh
10:51 PM interacts with Army, Air Force, ITBP at Ladakh
Update: Days after a violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in East Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reached Leh with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat. Modi reached Leh around 9.30 am, sources said. The prime minister is presently at one of the forward locations in Nimu and is interacting with personnel of the Army, Air Force and ITBP, official sources said. Located at 11,000 feet, Nimu is among the toughest terrains, on the banks of river Indus and surrounded by the Zanskar range. -- PTI
10:29 PM gets briefing at forward position at Nimu, Ladakh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a surprise visit to Ladakh. He is being briefed by senior officials at a forward position in Nimu. He reached there early this morning. He is interacting with personnel of Army, Air Force and ITBP. Nimu is located at 11,000 feet surrounded by the Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus.
Mohit Agarwal, IG Kanpur
10:22 8 UP Police personnel killed, 7 injured in encounter with criminals in Kanpur
At least eight Uttar Pradesh Police personnel, including a deputy superintendent of police, were killed and seven others injured in an encounter with criminals in Kanpur, officials said on Friday.
In a separate encounter, police killed two unidentified criminals. Inspector General of Police, Kanpur, Mohit Agarwal said, "Two unidentified criminals have been killed in a separate encounter and a pistol, which was taken away by criminals from policemen in earlier encounter, was recovered."
The first encounter took place when a police team was approaching to arrest Vikas Dubey, a history-sheeter facing 60 criminal cases, in Dikru village under the Chaubeypur police station on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, police said. As the police team was about to reach the hideout of the dreaded criminal, a hail of bullets was showered on them from a building rooftop, leaving Deputy Superintendent of Police Devendra Mishra, three sub-inspectors and four constables dead, the officials said.
Giving details of the incident, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police H C Awasthi said the notorious criminal might have got an inkling of the impending raid. He and Dubey's henchmen put up massive roadblocks to prevent the police personnel from proceeding towards their hideout. As the police team was caught unawares, the criminals fired at them from a building rooftop leading to the deaths, Awasthi said.
On getting information about the incident, Additional DG (Law and Order), IG (Kanpur) and the SSP of Kanpur rushed to the spot, where a forensic team has started investigations. The forensic team will be joined by another team from Lucknow. The Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh Police has also been pressed into action, the police chief said. Awasthi said seven policemen were also injured in the encounter and they have been rushed to a hospital.
A combing operation is on and the entire area has been sealed, he said. Sources said Dubey had allegedly killed Santosh Shukla, an MoS-rank BJP leader inside a police station in 2001. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath paid tributes to the slain policemen and conveyed his heartfelt condolences to their family members. -- PTI
10:00 20,000 Covid cases in a day, India tally 6,25,544
Brace yourself for this: India reports 379 deaths and the highest single-day spike of 20,903 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Positive cases stand at 6,25,544 including 2,27,439 active cases, 3,79,892 cured/discharged/migrated and 18213 deaths, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, says.
The total number of samples tested up to July 2 is 92,97,749 of which 2,41,576 samples were tested yesterday: Indian Council of Medical Research said.
And something positive to draw strength from: ICMR-Bharat Biotech COVID-19 vaccine trial results to be released by August 15.
09:50 Akshay, Taapsee, Farah remember 'genius' Saroj Khan
Bollywood woke up to the shock news of their beloved 'masterji' Saroj Khan's death on Friday, with many celebrities remembering the veteran choreographer as a "genius" and an "inspiration" to others. Khan, the name behind some of the most famous songs in Bollywood such as "Dhak Dhak" and "Ek Do Teen", died of cardiac arrest early on Friday morning. She was 71.
Superstar Akshay Kumar termed Khan's demise as a "huge loss" to the industry. "Woke up to the sad news that legendary choreographer #SarojKhan ji is no more. She made dance look easy almost like anybody can dance, a huge loss for the industry. May her soul rest in peace," he tweeted.
Choreographer Farah Khan said she was among the countless artistes who were inspired by Khan's work. "Rest in peace Sarojji... You were an inspiration to many, myself included. Thank you for the songs," she wrote on Twitter. Choreographer-turned-filmmaker Remo D'Souza said, "#RIP Saroji, you will be missed... Big loss to dance fraternity."
Actor Taapsee Pannu said she will forever cherish the memories of working with the veteran choreographer. "At least I had a chance to dance in your company. I am going to hold on to those memories tight... real tight. We lose another star to the sky. Your songs will make every girl remember you for ever and ever," the actor tweeted. Nimrat Kaur said there will be no one in the industry who could do what Khan did in her lifetime. "Saroj ji's name introduced the word choreographer' to my life. A genius who immortalised stars and the music that defined an era with her iconic work. May her loved ones find strength and courage at this terrible hour. There'll never be another...#RIPSarojKhan #Legend #Masterji" she said.
Genelia Deshmukh said she is grateful to have worked with the legendary artiste. "RIP Saroji ... I thank God I got a chance to be choreographed by you.. Prayers and Strength to the Family... #SarojKhan" she said.
"Woke up to the heartbreaking news of the legendary choreographer #SarojKhan's demise. Her iconic dance moves inspired me at a very young age. Rest in peace Saroj Ji. You are truly irreplaceable," tweeted Tamannaah Bhatia. Rakul Preet Singh mourned that her dream of working with Khan will remain unfulfilled.
"Always dreamt of doing at least one song Choreographed by her. Your grace and contribution to Indian cinema shall always be remembered. May your soul RIP. Strength to the family," she said. Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta said he learnt a lot while working with Khan.
"The first song I conceived 'Tamma Tamma Loge' to 'Dil Dil Dil' the first song of my debut film 'Aatish' we're choreographed by the legendary Saroj Khan. Learnt so much from her. RIP Saroj Ji and keep smiling like you always did," he wrote on the micro-blogging site. -- PTI
09:32 CDS Gen Bipin Rawat to reach Leh today
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat is scheduled to reach Leh on Friday, said sources.
He will be briefed on the present situation in the Eastern Ladakh sector by the 14 Corps officials.
General Rawat's visit holds importance since it comes in the wake of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to Ladakh being rescheduled.
The Defence Minister was scheduled to visit Ladakh today to review the preparedness of the army amid the ongoing standoff with China.
The situation at the India-China border remains tense after 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in a violent face-off in the Galwan valley on June 15-16 when Chinese troops attempted to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation.
India and China have been involved in talks to ease the ongoing border tensions since last month. -- ANI
09:06 Vandalised Mahatma Gandhi statue in Washington restored
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was vandalised by unknown miscreants last month, was restored in Washington, DC on Thursday.
The historic statue of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, was open for the public at a simple ceremony attended by the Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Edward Biegun.
Biegun joined India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu 'in paying tribute to Gandhi at restored Mahatma Gandhi Plaza' in front of the Embassy in downtown Washington DC, the embassy said in a tweet.
'Mahatma's message of truth and non-violence, peace and harmony continues to inspire people of India and United States and all across the world,' the Embassy said.
The statue was vandalised with graffiti and spray paint by unknown persons on June 2.
Following the incident, the Indian Embassy had taken up the matter with the US Department of State.
It worked with State Department, Metropolitan Police and National Park Service for expeditious restoration of the statue at the park.
The vandalism during the peak of a nationwide movement after the custodial death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 was widely condemned by top US lawmakers and the Trump Campaign.
US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster said, 'So sorry to see the desecration of the Gandhi statue in Washington DC. Please accept our sincere apologies.'
'Appalled as well by the horrific death of George Floyd and the awful violence and vandalism. We stand against prejudice & discrimination of any type. We will recover and be better,' he said in a tweet.
One of the few statues of a foreign leader on a federal land in Washington DC, the statue of Gandhi was dedicated by the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the presence of the then US president Bill Clinton on September 16, 2000, during his state visit to the United States. -- PTI
08:33 ICMR picks 12 institutes for Covid vaccine trial
The Indian Council of Medical Research has selected 12 institutes, including one from Odisha, for clinical trial of the country's first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, an official said on Thursday.
Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital under the SOA Deemed to be University, has been chosen by the ICMR for undertaking human clinical trials of India's first coronavirus vaccine, an official of the institute said.
ICMR has developed the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine (BBV152 COVID vaccine) partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL).
The 12 institutes have been asked by the ICMR to fast track clinical trials of the vaccine as it is being considered as one of the top priority projects which are being monitored at the topmost level of the government.
"The vaccine is derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the pre-clinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine," an official said.
In a letter to the selected institute where the clinical trial is to be done, the ICMR also informed that it is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by August 15, 2020 after completion of all clinical trials.
BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, the final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project, the ICMR told the selected institutes.
In view of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic and urgency to launch the vaccine, the selected institutes are strictly advised to fast track all approvals related to the initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrolment is initiated during the first week of July.
Apart from IMS and SUM Hospital here, the other institutes selected for the clinical trial are located in Visakhapatnam, Rohtak, New Delhi, Patna, Belgaum (Karnataka), Nagpur, Gorakhpur, Kattankulathur (Tamil Nadu), Hyderabad, Arya Nagar, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Goa. -- PTI
08:29 US records 53,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single-day
The United States on Thursday reported over 53,000 new cases of coronavirus, reported The Washington Post.
With 10,109 new cases, Florida on Thursday (local time) recorded its biggest single-day hike.
As per the latest update by the Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus count in the US stands at 27,32,639.
As many as 1,28,643 people have succumbed to the disease so far.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued a statewide order requiring the Texans to wear masks in public in any county with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.
A total of 1,09,35,964 people have been infected with the coronavirus and 5,19,818 deaths have been reported till now, Johns Hopkins University reported. -- ANI
08:16 DCGI okays human clinical trial of Covid vaccine
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Thursday granted permission to pharma giant Zydus Cadila to conduct phase I and phase II human clinical trials for COVID -19 vaccine, a top government official told ANI.
The move comes as a rapid response after recommendation by the subject expert committee as approved by DCGI.
"The company has submitted data to DCGI based on animal trial, they conducted. Animals like- mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats were used and these animals developed antibodies against the virus," a senior government official told ANI.
"Their animal trial data was inspected thoroughly and was found satisfactory. And now, DCGI has granted permission to Zydus Cadila to conduct Phase I & II clinical trial for COVID -19 vaccine on humans after successful animal trial," said the official.
So far, India has two indigenous manufacturers for the potential COVID-19 vaccine.
In the recent past, DCGI has given permission to Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL), who has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct Phase I & II human clinical trials to develop an indigenous vaccine for COVID-19 -- in the name COVAXIN.
The Bharat Biotech using the virus strain isolated at ICMR's National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune to develop the vaccine. -- Priyanka Sharma/ANI
00:14 COVID-19 cases rising in 40 of 50 US states
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 per day on Thursday, with the infection curve rising in 40 out of 50 states in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast.
In yet another alarming indicator, 36 states are seeing a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive for the virus.
The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks.
The US recorded 50,700 new cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the deadliest phase of the crisis in April and May.
The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters.
Nebraska and South Dakota were the only states outside the Northeast with a downward trend in cases.